Evening dress for Hollywood ladies in the 1920s

Written by heather berkowe
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Evening dress for Hollywood ladies in the 1920s
Hollywood stars like Clara Bow set fashion trends. (Getty creative)

The 1920s were the days of flappers, art deco and high living. Everything about the age emanated youth and vitality to reflect the post-war enthusiasm. In what is probably the most dramatic transition in history, women's fashion went from curvaceous to straight in silhouette, waistlines dropped to below the rear-end and sequins were in abundance on everything from cigarette holders to evening dresses. In Hollywood, everything is amplified. These were the days of Louise Brooks and Clara Bow, where celebrity glamour has no bounds.

The silhouette

The 1920s couture evening dress silhouette was straight. After the mono-bust and s-curve of the early 1900s, the desired style of the '20s was young and flat. With the help of a new bra style, the breasts we compressed to give an adolescent appearance. Replacing the tight, corseted tops and skirts were loose, body skimming dresses. The waistline dropped to below the butt and dress lengths fell between the knee and the ankle. The skirt of the dress was usually full from the waist seam down.

The details

Hollywood's new dresses had details galore. Chiffon, silk, taffeta and velvet were favourite fabrications of the stars. Lame and metallic fabrics were introduced.

Pleating was an important detail, especially when done in a chiffon or other light fabric. Overlays in metallic or lace were especially popular. Pickups in the skirt experienced a resurgence. The use of embellishment on dresses defined the age.


Embellishment was the most important part of 1920s Hollywood glamour. Fashion of the 1920s was defined by opulence and from that view came an abundance of new treatments.

Feathers: A staple for flappers, they were used to adorn dresses and hair alike. The feather boa was a symbol of the age.

Sequins: The most recognisably 1920s, dresses were made entirely of sequins.

Beading: A true representation of opulence, dresses were embroidered and beaded, especially at the front neckline.

Fur: For the winter months, fur adorned the hems and shoulders of many a Hollywood actress.


Accessories of the 1920s conveyed the lavish lifestyles of the time. Headpieces were a new and exciting accessory to 1920s evening wear that accentuated the new hairstyle, the bob. They were made of everything from feathers to lace with pearls, to diamonds. They could be over a foot high and pricier than the dress it complemented. Cigarette holders were also a new fad of 1920s Hollywood. They were embellished with bead work, covered in sequins, and very long.

Broaches were larger than ever. They were placed at the shoulder, and were made from anything: fabric flowers, jewels, feathers or beads.

Necklaces grew to great lengths. Pearls were the favourite of the day and would be worn shorter for a short dress and longer for ankle lengths.

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